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Games are rated relative to other games for the same system.

Super Nintendo Reviews A

ABC Monday Night Football
Grade: D-
Publisher: Data East (1993)
Posted: 2019/1/23

screenshotIn the proud history of 16-bit football games ABC Monday Night Football holds the distinction of being most hilarious. I love that classic MNF theme playing over the title screen, but commentator Frank Gifford appears to be having some kind of seizure at the bottom of the main menu. You'd expect a game bearing the prestigious Monday Night Football license to spare no expense, but would you believe it doesn't even have an NFL license!? The teams are identified by city alone, with helmets featuring bizarre symbols like swirls, snowmen, and even a dollar sign!

The action on the field is surreal. During kickoffs you're looking down the field but the programmer must have screwed up because the player scaling is reversed. Instead of distant players being smaller they are actually larger, giving the illusion of a gang of giants descending upon a squad of midgets! And it gets better. Passes aren't exactly tight spirals; in fact they appear to be traveling sideways! Receivers leap super high for every pass, and ball carriers literally crawl up the field. When tackled, the ball carrier's helmet flies off as he unleashes a scream worthy of Street Fighter 2 (Capcom, 1992). Sacked quarterbacks are pressed into the field like squashed bugs.

To its credit, the Tecmo-style play calling screen is easy to use. By calling a "power play" you initiate a cut-scene where both players pound buttons to gain the upper hand. After a score Frank Gifford exclaims "ohhhh Nellie - touchdown!" Reacting to normal plays are brief digitized clips showing the same six guys jumping around. After negative plays a disembodied voice says "Foooor-get it!" Who exactly is saying that?! Ten-yard measurements are viewed from high up in the air, giving you zero sense of how close you are to a first down. ABC Monday Night Football is a trainwreck of embarrassing proportions but there is entertainment value in experiencing it first hand. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Grade: A-
Publisher: Enix (1991)
Posted: 2012/4/14

screenshotI was expecting the typical side-scrolling swordplay from Actraiser, but I got more - a lot more. Actraiser complements the solid platform action with a heavy dose of Sim City-style strategy. The two parts of the game couldn't be more different, yet are nicely intertwined and engrossing to play. You assume the role of a small cherub aiding the people of six lands to rid themselves of monsters and develop their cities. You view their world from an overhead perspective, using menu icons to communicate with the people.

The interface takes a while to get comfortable with, but it's worth the effort. To help cultivate the land, you perform "miracles" in the form of rain, lightning, and earthquakes. It's not always clear what spells are effective where, so you'll need to experiment. Watching the cities flourish is satisfying, but shooting the flying demons which terrorize each city (and constantly respawn) can be seriously repetitive. The key is to "seal off" their lairs as soon as possible. As their society develops, the people present offerings that serve as power-ups. Occasionally you become a fierce warrior embarking on impressive side-scrolling levels.

It's the standard hack-n-slash formula, but the richness of the scenery and imaginative creature designs puts this a cut above the rest. Some of the mythology-inspired monsters include minotaurs, centaurs, walking trees, and flying demons. As an indication of the quality, I found the desert level to be very similar to the Tatooine stage in Super Star Wars (SNES, 1992). Actraiser's difficulty is very fair, and you can save your progress via battery back-up at any time. There's an elegant classical musical score reminiscent of Zelda that plays throughout the game. Actraiser is one of those rare titles that skillfully intermingles two styles of play into one superb package. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

Save mechanism: Battery
1 player 

Actraiser 2
Grade: D
Publisher: Enix (1993)
Posted: 2012/4/14

screenshotUnlike the first Actraiser which had Sim-City elements, this sequel is pure hack-n-slash action all the way through. Oh sure, there's an overhead map with plenty of text to page through, but it's just a glorified stage select. Navigating the map is confusing until you realize that the small stone circles are where the stages are accessed. Like its predecessor, Actraiser 2 boasts outstanding graphics and a sweeping orchestrated musical score. I can't emphasize enough the level of detail in these graphics, as each stage looks like a work of art.

Locations include a jungle, a graveyard full of bones, waterfalls, and a torch-lit dungeon. You control a winged warrior fighting against a myriad of creatures. Some of these creatures are huge, and each has its own unique characteristics. The sword controls are excellent, allowing you to swing in any direction. The flying controls on the other hand, are terrible. A clumsy control scheme lets you dive, float, or glide sideways. It's hard to grasp and the game gives you no room for error. In fact it's often impossible to clear a gap without incurring some degree of damage. Worse yet, gliding sideways causes you to stumble forward upon landing!

I might have cut the controls a little slack if the stages weren't so freakin' hard! I must have played that jungle stage (with the poisonous river) 25 times and never beat it. Enemies can absorb several hits and trying to perch on narrow ledges is an exercise in frustration. In many cases, there's no indication you're taking damage. The first boss stage appears to have bushy grass on each side of the screen, and only after many deaths did I realize those were green thorns! Even when using the Game Genie this game kicked my ass! It's as though the developer set out to create the most difficult side-scroller in history - and succeeded! Actraiser 2 is one of a kind. I can't quite recall playing a game that looked so good but played so bad. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Addams Family Values
Grade: D+

screenshotAddams Family Values isn't anything to write home about, but at least it makes an effort to capture the spirit of the film, which is more than I can say for the first game. Playing as Uncle Fester, you explore forests, gardens, swamps, and dungeons on your quest to find Baby Pubert. You begin in a misty graveyard, and the enticing gothic visuals convey a nice Halloween vibe. The production values are terrific; even the menu screens sport eye-catching details and animations. The impressive audio delivers a brooding musical score and jarring sound effects. After cranking up my stereo, the sound of crashing thunder made me jump out of my chair!

Family Values is an overhead adventure in the spirit of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES, 1992). As you move between contiguous screens you'll collect items and enter perilous underground dungeons loaded with traps, puzzles, and prowling creatures. Other characters from the films wander the stages to offer clues, and their dialogue nicely conveys the demented humor of the film. Fester's default weapon is lightning that shoots from his fingers, which is narrow but effective. The problem is, it loses range as you take damage, making it progressively harder (and increasingly frustrating) to defend yourself.

Enemies include skeletons, trolls, and ravenous plants, but mostly irritating small creatures like floating eyeballs and hopping mushrooms. Since you can't aim with precision, these pesky creatures are annoyingly hard to hit, and Fester is a huge target for them. The overhead view is slightly tilted, so stone pillars and trees tend to obstruct your vision. It's not uncommon to incur damage from spikes or enemies totally hidden from sight!

The puzzles don't make a lot of sense, so pressing a button might open a gate in another area. The graveyard is well designed, but the swamp is just a boring maze of bogs. After using one of your unlimited continues, you're tossed back in the fray with a single ounce of life! That's frustrating - especially when you subsequently keel over after being touched by a moving bush (yes - a freakin' bush). There's a password feature, but you'll need to make a lot of progress to be issued one. I wanted to like Addams Family Values with its macabre atmosphere and Zelda-style gameplay, but I found it to be more aggravating than enjoyable. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

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Save mechanism: Password
1 player 

Addams Family, The
Grade: C-
Publisher: Ocean (1992)
Posted: 2013/11/20

screenshotThis SNES edition of Addams Family feels like a second-rate Super Mario knockoff with Gomez substituted for Mario. You'll hop on moving platforms, pounce on enemies, hit switches, and avoid constant hazards. The cartoonish graphics are clean but minimal, and if not for the huge character portraits lining the walls you might forget you were even playing an Addams Family game!

The selectable stages are a series of rooms including a conservatory, kitchen, and trap-laden "game room." Would you believe they even managed to incorporate an obligatory ice stage? Your adversaries are a weird hodgepodge of random creatures. The ghosts, bats, spiders, mummies, and skulls make sense, but why are there jack-rabbits hopping all over the place? Are those Jawas in the graveyard? Did I just see a bird from Joust?? This game suffers from an identity crisis!

Its gameplay mirrors Super Mario to an alarming degree. Power-ups let you fire bouncing balls or hover in the air. Others provide sparkly invincibility. The spiked balls on chains and oversized cannons look as if they were imported directly from Bowser's castle. The collision detection is forgiving, but sometimes it's hard to tell if you're dealing damage or taking it. You get plenty of lives but minimal health, so expect a lot of one-hit deaths. I do like the audio, especially the reverberation effects in the caves. Failing to capture the spirit of the movie, Addams Family feels like a shallow platformer with a movie license slapped on top. If you want something fun and inventive, stick with the Turbo Duo version. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 13,630
1 player 

Adventures of Batman and Robin, The
Grade: B-

screenshotIt's no wonder this rare cartridge is so highly sought after; it looks like a work of art rendered from the cells of the Batman and Robin animated series. The graphics are not as detailed as those in Batman Returns (SNES, 1992) but their simple elegance is appealing. The first stage takes place on a dark street with art-deco buildings in the foreground and a towering skyline looming in the distance against a deep red sky.

The characters are nicely animated and the sound effects are crisp. When you disarm a foe with a Batarang and beat him senseless, it feels great! The lavish musical score is basically the same one used in Batman Returns. The opening stage concludes with an moonlit amusement park encounter with the Joker, taking you on a vertigo-inducing roller coaster ride. Although a platformer at heart, each stage plays differently and offers a new villain like Catwoman, Two-face, Scarecrow, and the Riddler. Fans of the animated series will love cinematic touches like seeing Catwoman somersaulting between rooftops in the distance before you actually encounter her.

The gameplay however is less enticing. Objectives are frequently confusing and on-screen prompts (like "hit") only add to the confusion. In the rollercoaster stage you need to deflect the Joker's bombs by punching them. How was I supposed to know that? You can toggle between items but locating the right one for each situation is largely a matter of trial-and-error. The overhead driving stage is aggravating because it's timed and it's so easy to get hopelessly stuck on a curb!

The password option is useful but did the password need to be a grid of shapes? The continue function always returns you to the very beginning of the stage, so what's the point? And despite what the title would imply, this is a one-player game, with Robin only making token appearances. Adventures of Batman and Robin may be a showcase title but I wished it played as well as it looks. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 43,100
Save mechanism: password
1 player 

Adventures of Yogi Bear
Grade: C
Publisher: Cybersoft (1994)
Posted: 2021/1/3

screenshotI acquired Adventures of Yogi Bear last summer but one glance at the first stage told me I had to save it for winter. The snow-covered hills, ice-encrusted trees, and moon-lit sky look so cheery this might as well be a Christmas game. Yogi scampers smoothly over the fluffy powder and I love those soft tones that play as he picks up floating pocket watches. There's only one button to worry about, and that's jump.

Along the way you'll pounce on slow-moving creatures like skunks, bunnies, and snowmen. Like a Sonic title, there are two ways to approach the game. You can take your sweet time and hop on every floating basket to rack up your score multiplier. Hopping on baskets can lead you to some high elevations, but be careful because you never know what's below and you may find yourself jumping into an abyss. Taking the "speed run" approach would be fun if the collision detection wasn't so unforgiving. If a cute pink bunny comes within two feet of you you're losing a big slice of your "life cake". And you don't get a few seconds of invincibility, making you susceptible to follow-up hits.

The jazzy music is pretty good but the stages are cookie-cutter to the max. Each set of four stages look exactly alike and there are no boss encounters to spice things up. There are a few bonus stages but the "mine cart ride" thing was too confusing and the "beaver surfing" wasn't all I was hoping for. Adventures of Yogi Bear is pretty average, but if you're in a wintery mood this game offers some of the best-looking snow stages around. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Al Unser Jr.'s Road to the Top
Grade: D
Publisher: Mindscape (1994)
Posted: 2021/1/3

screenshotTo be honest I picked this up mainly for its snowmobile stages. It's hard to find that kind of winter action on the SNES! Al Unser Jr.'s Road to the Top alternates between four racing styles: go-karts, IROC sports cars, snowmobiles, and Indy cars. As with Super Mario Kart (Nintendo, 1992), mode 7 effects are used to facilitate the illusion of smooth movement. The graphics are crisp and colorful but there's not much scenery. The courses are mostly flat but have slight contours including a few minor bumps and dips. Distinctive red and white boundaries line the track but you can often cut corners.

The kart races are like Mario Kart except without the characters, power-ups, and personality. The IROC races make it look like you're racing around in boxy sedans from the 70's. The snowmobile events offer a pretty blue-and-white color scheme but not much else. Indy races feature wide cars on oval tracks, making it pretty hard to pass. These variants seem enjoyable enough in practice mode but the "road to the top" can be arduous. You need to win each race outright to advance, beginning with three kart races. Even five laps starts to feel like an eternity after replaying the same track two or three times. There's not much technique involved except for avoiding oil spills which spin you around 180 degrees, effectively taking you out of the race.

Breaking up the monotony are Pike's Peak bonus races which feel like a completely different game. Based on an actual (and very dangerous) historic race location, it's a challenge to reach the finish line without falling off a cliff. After that bit of excitement the normal races start to seem pretty dull... more so. A two-player split-screen mode is included but it's bland without CPU competitors. Al Unser Jr.'s Road To The Top is too unrealistic for a simulation and too tedious for an arcade game, making it feel more like a road to nowhere. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Grade: B+
Publisher: Capcom (1993)
Posted: 2014/7/29

screenshotAladdin was a showcase title for the Genesis, but this SNES edition is even more impressive - at least in the audio/video department. The characters are rich with detail, the layered stages are gorgeous, and the lush orchestrated music fills the room when you pipe it through a stereo. Following the storyline of the film, Aladdin's adventures take him through a marketplace, a desert, the Cave of Wonders, a pyramid, and Jafar's Palace for the big show-down. The genie bonus levels are particularly imaginative and colorful.

One thing about this SNES version is that the gameplay is more strategic and deliberate than the Genesis game. Aladdin's primary move is a vault used to subdue enemies in addition to reaching high places. You can toss apples to daze enemies, but it's disappointing that you can't wield a sword. I mean, c'mon now, a little violence never hurt anybody. The platform jumping is solid and I like how you perform nifty stunts to escape harm's way. If you barely miss a ledge, Aladdin will grab it and pull himself up. There were a bunch of times when I was sure I was dead but something saved me at the last moment.

The animation isn't as fluid as the Genesis game, but there are still some awesome set pieces. The magic carpet ride over waves of lava is harrowing, and the final boss encounter where Jafar transforms into a huge cobra is astonishing. There's no score but a password feature is included. That will help you complete the game but there's little incentive to play through again. I prefer the Genesis game for the replay factor, but fans of the film will still want this beauty in their collection. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Alien 3
Grade: D+
Publisher: Acclaim (1993)
Posted: 2002/5/20

screenshotI appreciate its sharp graphics and harrowing sound effects, but Alien 3's gameplay just didn't do it for me. Playing the role of a bald-headed Ripley, you are fully strapped with a pulse rifle, flamethrower, and grenade launcher. Each stage consists of a series of missions you can play in any order.

Typically you must rescue prisoners, repair pipes, or destroy alien eggs. You'll explore large rooms of platforms connected by tunnels, and missions often require a lot of tedious backtracking. You actually need to consult a map to scout out the location of your next mission, which seems like a lot of unnecessary work if you ask me.

Alien 3's graphics are dark and realistic. Ripley is fluidly animated, but the aliens can be difficult to discern. A superb audio track boasts creepy music and digitized sound effects. Much like the film, Alien 3 fails to build any suspense, partially because the aliens attack early and often.

The controls are lousy. I like how you can shoot while hanging from a ceiling or ladder, but most areas are inundated with small creatures, requiring you to constantly squat and shoot low. Getting into that squat position is harder than it should be, as each hit knocks you back upright.

Consequently, those little face grabbers will torment you to no end. Other issues include really bad collision detection. Sometimes you'll miss an alien egg at point-blank range, yet somehow shoot the egg behind it. Technical glitches and tedious missions really drag down this otherwise good-looking title. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Alien Vs. Predator
Grade: C-
Publisher: Activision (1993)
Posted: 2015/1/1

screenshotWhen you have two super-powerful life forms in the universe, it's only a matter of time before they battle for supremacy. This game allows you to play out this surprisingly common male fantasy. I was stoked to see the game is a side-scrolling brawler like Streets of Rage (Genesis, 1991). Instead of fighting thugs on city streets you are a lone Predator disposing of Aliens on an intergalactic outpost.

Alien Vs. Predator takes some liberties with the aliens, depicting them in a wide variety of sizes and colors. The sprites are huge, which helps me forgive the fact that this is one-player only. For the first few minutes the game seems almost too good to be true. In addition to standard attacks (punch combos, jump-kick, slide) there are plenty of weapons like spears, wrist blades, and cloaks of invisibility. I love how the spears pass through several aliens at once. Your most useful attack is your laser, which you can charge to varying degrees. It's so effective it's almost criminal. If you can keep your distance from a group of enemies (or a boss), you can just repeatedly unleash laser blasts until they croak (literally - they make that noise!).

Alien Vs. Predator would be great if not for some fundamental flaws. It's possible to throw aliens, but not into other aliens, which pretty much defeats the purpose. Invisible walls prevent you from tossing enemies off cliffs. It looks absolutely ridiculous to defeat enemies by sliding back and forth on a narrow icy ledge. I absolutely hate the fact that you can't pick up anything if you're already holding a weapon! If you have spears and find some meat you desperately need for health, you need to chuck those things as fast as you can.

The scenery is not scary and kind of "blah". Indoor areas tend to have a drab industrial look and outdoor locations are surprisingly pixelated. The synthesized electronic music is very good but the ice cliff level makes an annoying clicking sound. Despite its flaws I enjoyed playing for score, especially since the high score is always displayed at the top. Alien Vs. Predator isn't a bad game, but there's no excuse for these quality control issues. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 122,700
1 player 

An American Tail: Fievel Goes West
Grade: C
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1994)
Posted: 2022/7/2

screenshotAn American Tail: Fievel Goes West was a 1991 animated film produced by Steven Speilberg. It wasn't a huge hit but I'm sure some of you have fond memories of it. I knew I had to get this game when I learned it was published by Hudson Soft. Those guys could bang out some games back in the day.

This beautiful platformer stars an adventurous little mouse. The opening stage takes place in a city alleyway, which would be generic in most games but here is a work of art. As you navigate the brick building ledges a brilliant layered city skyline at dusk serves as a picturesque backdrop. There's some mist, storm clouds, and even rain effects. The musical score is very gentle and pleasant.

Fievel's gameplay is simple but sometimes you want that. There's two buttons, jump and shoot. You need to shoot everything in this game, including icons. You can only shoot forward however, meaning you'll need to jump and time your shots to hit enemies in the air. The collision detection could be more forgiving. You'll encounter a lot of cats that can only be defeated if you shoot them dead in the face.

Jumping between protruding bricks is harder than it should be, and I think I figured out why. When you jump, instead of your mouse moving, the entire screen shifts upward making it hard to see where you're supposed to land. You tend to overcompensate in the air, sending you plunging into the ether. It's bad design.

Advanced stages employ a lot of bright orange color schemes but the cliche wild west scenery isn't particularly interesting. There are three stages where you float through a sewer in a can which could be fun if they weren't all exactly the same. Despite its substantial production values An American Tail: Fievel Goes West is one adventure that just doesn't quite click. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 35,420
1 player 

Grade: C+
Publisher: Nintendo (1997)
Posted: 2000/6/4

screenshotArkanoid is Breakout for the 90's! It features classic "balls to the wall" action with just about every variation you've ever imagined. Each level has a different brick layout, and certain bricks have special properties, including some that dispense power-ups. These power-ups might change the size of your paddle, provide a temporary forcefield (to help keep the ball in play), or let you shoot the bricks directly with missiles! UFOs buzz around the screen and add even more unpredictability. A two-player simultaneous option is also included.

With all these bells and whistles, you might expect this to be the best breakout game ever. Well, not quite. While many of the levels are well-designed, others are pretty dull. Yes there are tons of power-ups, but many are just distracting, and their ubiquitous nature makes this game far less challenging than it should be. The digital joypad doesn't give you the best control, but the SNES mouse is also supported. Arkanoid is a decent effort, but it's not as madly addictive as I expected. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Grade: A
Publisher: Konami (1992)
Posted: 1999/10/4

screenshotThis vertical shooter was universally acclaimed upon its release, and it's still just as fun to play today. In fact, Axelay may be the definitive shooter for the SNES. Its five lengthy stages alternate between vertical shooting and side-scrolling action, and most are set over planet surfaces although a few take place in deep space. Axelay's high-resolution graphics are stunning, with so many types of enemies that you rarely see the same one twice. Several weapons are available at any given time, and each is uniquely suited for a particular situation. The centerpiece of this game however is its bosses, which are huge and imposing. The first boss is a gigantic spider, and the second boss is one of the coolest I've ever witnessed, making one heck of an entrance. Axelay is a must-have for any serious SNES collector. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 60410
1 player 

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Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum, Console Classix, Moby Games, Games Database, YouTube